Why go on Fox's American Idol when you could become a pop singer overnight by simply volunteering to work at Adelle DeWitt's Dollhouse? That's what happened to Echo in this week's episode when she's imprinted with the personality of Jordan, a wannabe from Southie who wins a recently vacated backup singer position with pop celebrity Rayna Russell, an ungodly fusion of Beyonce, Shakira and Katy Perry with Aisha Tyler's face. Little does Jordan know she's also been charged with the task of being Kevin Costner to Rayna's Whitney Houston.
Welcome back to TVGuide.com's blog dedicated to Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. While you may have seen the show experienced a dip in ratings during its second week, I can't say the same for the blog. Members posted at a greater rate and I want you to continue posting your criticisms, praise, and theories. It's what we're all about.
So, without further ado...
You ask, "Dan, what's up with this Rayna? Why does she need a bodyguard?"
Wouldn't you hire protection if you saw your colleague burned by malfunctioning pyrotechnics that were clearly meant to harm you? Who wouldn't? Oh, right. Rayna.
That's why her manager Biz (Angel alum Jim Piddock) has come to the Dollhouse for a back door bodyguard, someone who can slip into the role of backup singer but take a bullet if she has to.
"And the Dollhouse? What's going on at that place? Still imprinting the young and beautiful?"
They certainly are. Thankfully however, we were given a break from the tech talk this week. Topher's lab was in short order. Let's talk about Topher for a second. He seems to be dividing the fans. The criticisms seem to be coming from people seeing him as a mixture of both Buffy's Xander and Andrew while not living up to either's likeability. Personally, I don't have much of an opinion on Topher yet. I think this is an instance where the character will be more tailor made to the actor as the show progresses.
I have found the imprinting sequences to be rather repetitious. That's just me. It's probably just because I've been a loyal viewer since the pilot and I feel like they're catering to the newbie.
That's a joke. I'll give it 'til episode eight before I turn into the snob who's high and mighty about jumping in on the ground floor.
"That's great, Dan. But, uh, back to the Dollhouse... You know, what the show's about?"
Right! We learned a little bit more about what the Dolls are like in their un-imprinted state. Think of it this way; they're all really good gym buddies and Echo seems to have taken new Doll Sierra into her stead. Which, as we learn later, is not something Sierra's handler seems to appreciate.
"And what about Fred's character?"
Now, now let's get this straight. Your question should be, "And what about Amy Acker's character," or "And what about Dr. Saunders?" I know many of us will always think of her as Angel's Winifred Burkle, but she clearly has a much darker storyline yet to be explored on this show. So, again...
"And what about Dr. Saunders, Mr. Aughey?"
Very good! Well, while she continued to be used sparingly this week, her character played a vital role in certifying Boyd for service after his incident with an arrow in last week's episode.
She's also quite upset to learn Echo has been sent on an engagement with such a risk when she specifically flagged her for only romantic and altruistic engagements.
"But after last week's incident involving the client turning into a man-, er, womanhunter, I'm sure the Dollhouse sent her in with backup."
They sure did. Sierra has been imprinted with the personality of Audra, Rayna's number one fan from Australia. It was actually quite nice to see actress Dichen Lachman get to explore Sierra as an active in this episode. Up until now our interactions with the character have been quite cold.
"Dan, what's happening with Agent Ballard? You really didn't mention him last week."
It's true I gave Paul the short end of the stick in last week's blog. I failed to mention his Spider-Man 2-esque subplot. No, you didn't forget about Paul swinging from building to building while fighting a man with eight arms. I'm talking about his lovely neighbor who he could have a nice relationship with if only he wasn't so caught up in his work. But remember, as I'll continue to bring up through the course of this series, the first line of the pilot was "Nothing is as it seems." So, just keep that in mind.
This week, Paul was given more to do. It seems as though Russian mobster Lubov is finally ready to talk. He stops by Paul's apartment but has to settle for asking his neighbor to pass along a message about a meeting place.
They meet at a party in the hills (or on a skyscraper?) and discuss the nature of the Dollhouse. If this technology exists, than it's most surely being used on our fellow man. Why? Because, "people are mostly crap," Lubov proclaims. The Ruskie also continues to insist the agency is simply a myth.
"Well, he would wouldn't he? He doesn't want Agent Ballard having information about who he works for."
That's right, imaginary blog reader who I'm using as a framing device. But he probably doesn't work for the people you think he does. After weeks of knowing actor Enver Gjokaj as Lubov, it is revealed that he is in fact Victor, one of Adelle's volunteers.
"Imaginary? What? I'm as real as Jordan- Whatever. So, what, Lubov's engagement is to keep Ballard off the real trail?"
I suppose so. After the reveal, Lubov sends Ballard to an abandoned building where he's attacked by Lubov's Russian kin. At least, I think that's who they are. Is anyone who they say they are on this show? After being shot in the gut, Ballard manages to take out his attackers.
"Let's get back to Echo. How's her engagement going?"
Not too badly. Rayna likes Jordan's voice and they seem to be becoming friends. As long as she can stop a stalker who looks like Ron Weasley and remember never to eat mints around her new friend, then she's golden.
"What's this stalker's plan now that he failed with the pyrotechnics?"
Well, let's just say he's not going to point his wand a yell "Avada Kadavra"
Oh, I crack myself up. Ah-hem.
Instead, the stalker is going to use crutches which can be retrofitted into a gun to take Rayna out at her next show.
Before the performance, Jordan discovers notes and flowers from the stalker in Rayna's dressing room. Apparently Rayna's been keeping contact with him for months. She's encouraging his derangement while simultaneously giving herself the rush she needs to feel something.
It seems that Rayna has been imprinted herself. No, not by Topher. You don't need the Dollhouse's technology to mold a person. All you need is a record contract.
Despite Rayna's claim of wanting to be "free" she literally climbs willfully into the cage every night.
"But Echo saves her from the crutch-gun, yes?"
Yes. Just after Audra (Sierra) is introduced to the crowd as Rayna's number one fan, Echo protects Rayna secret service style.
And what does that get her? Fired from the tour. Man, Jordan's right. Rayna's going though something and it's not just a, "shave-your-head-flash-your-junk wacky phase."
"Ron Wesley can not be happy about this."
He's not. Despite missing his target, Rayna proclaimed someone else her number one fan.
How would a psychotic fan react to that?
Well, let's do the math. If Audra's number one, than she must be eliminated for the stalker to inherit the crown. Rayna's stalker kidnaps Audra from outside the concert hall.
"But it seems like we're missing something. Rayna's been talking with the stalker. It all seems a little odd."
A little? More than "a little" but you're right. After the kidnapping, the stalker makes a video for Rayna and her "people." He closes his opus with the line "I kill for you. You die for me. That was the deal. You have my number. Call me."
Rayna's compulsion to feel emotion has finally gone too far. She's been putting herself and others in harm's way by feeding her stalker's obsession.
"How does Adelle feel about the kidnapping of one of her Dolls?"
Surprisingly good, actually. In the grand tradition of CEO's, Adelle spins the situation as it's seen in the eyes of the company. Sierra drew attention away from Rayna. Job well done!
Echo's imprint, Jordan, is not taking things so well, however. Once Rayna refuses to help out with the kidnapping, Topher's science experiment malfunctions or works flawlessly. It's open to interpretation.
Echo's mission was to stop the person who wanted Rayna dead. Now that it's revealed that person is Rayna herself, Echo's brain computes that Jordan must act as part hostage negotiator, part celebrity therapist.
She sets up a trade with the stalker. Rayna for Audra.
Handler Boyd manages to get to the exchange in time. While on the line with the Dollhouse, he informs them he can, "take out the threat." Adelle does not give the go ahead.
I may have missed a bit but did anyone get the feeling that "the threat" was not the stalker but Echo? Let's say Boyd shoots the stalker in the back. Echo wouldn't just consider it all over. Rayna wouldn't have learned a thing. The engagement would be a failure that way. Who knows how she would've reacted?
But, yes, Echo once again pulls through and reaffirms the Dollhouse as a place that gets results.
I must say, Boyd and Echo's relationship is really being fleshed out nicely. I almost got some warm fuzzies when he asked if she was ready for her treatment. If only I had emotions.
"Last week you made much of Laurence's utterance of the phrase 'The Attic.' Was it shown? Did it feature our favorite Bayside High students using fake IDs to dance the night away without any alcoholic imbibitions?"
It was not shown. Nice reference, by the way.
But, yes, 'The Attic' was indeed mentioned again this week. It was also confirmed, in so many words, to be a dumping ground for defective Dolls. I can't wait to see where this storyline goes.
It seems like their un-imprinted state is able to be tweaked. Now that Echo is being perceived as a bad influence on Sierra, Echo is trained to avoid her.
What were your thoughts on the episode?
It was a little more standalone than the previous episodes but it continued to build on the themes and characters.
I'm not one for spoilers. Instead, I prefer vague teases about the quality/themes of upcoming episodes. And boy, has Dollhouse star and producer Eliza Dushku been teasing. After admitting the first five episodes have been designed for new viewers to jump in, Dushku reveals that Episode 6 is to be a game-changer. (See related article.) From then on Whedon's voice will shine through and the serialized storytelling we love from his earlier shows will return.
Please leave your comments below and check out next Friday's episode, "Grey Hour," airing on Fox.